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B. POLEVOI

emerged from the chaos and breathed hot, stinking breath
into his face. He tried to roll away from this object, but
his body seemed to have stuck fast in the snow. Prompted
bv the unknown horror hovering about him, he made a
sudden effort and at once felt the frosty air entering his
lungs, the cold snow against his cheek^and an acute pain,
no longer over his whole body, but in his feet.

4Tm alive!" was the thought that raced through his
mind. He tried to rise, but he heard the snow crunching
under somebody's feet and a noisy, hoarse breathing near
him. 4kGermans!" he thought at once, and suppressed an
urge to open his eyes, jump to his feet and defend himself.
"A prisoner! A prisoner, after all! What shall I do?"

He remembered that the day before his mechanic
Yura, a Jack of all trades, had offered to fix the strap of
his holster that had been torn off, but he had not taken
up that offer. As a result he had to carry his pistol in the
thigh pocket of his flying suit. To get at it now he had
to turn over on his side, but he could not do that without
attracting the enemy's attention; he was lying face down-
wards. He felt the sharp outline of the pistol against his
thigh; but he lay motionless; perhaps the enemy would
take him for dead and go away.

The German walked near him, sighed in a rather queer
way, then went up to him again, crunching the snow.
Alexei again felt the malodorous breath coming from his
mouth. He knew now that there was only one German,
and that gave him a chance of escape: if he watched him,
jumped up suddenly, grabbed him by the throat before

he could get at his gun-----But that would have to be

done carefully and with the utmost precision.

Without changing his position, Alexei opened his eyes
slowly, and through his lowered lashes saw not a Ger-
man, but a brown, shaggy patch. He opened his eyes
wider and at once shut them tight again: a big, lean,
shaggy bear was squatting on its haunches in front of
him.

Silent as only a wild animal can be, the bear squatted
near the motionless human figure that barely protruded
from the bluish snow glittering in the sun. Its filthy